Wraith: the Oblivion is a roleplaying game published by White Wolf.
Wraith: the Oblivion is the 4th roleplaying game in the storyteller series, set in the World of Darkness
The books in this series are...
In Wraith, death isn't the end. It's just the beginning. Most souls, upon death, pass on to Transcendence
, but a few take up residence in the Shadowlands
as wraiths. These souls are special, bringing them with unfulfilled desires and drives, emotions and needs that are so powerful that they are stronger than death itself. Anger, love, fear, hatred - these are some of the Passions that, until fulfilled, can tie a wraith to the shadows of the mortal world. Driven by Passions
and anchored by Fetters
(objects they feel connected to), wraiths are caught between this life and the next.
In Wrath, the focus of the game passes from the traditional mission or combat oriented roleplaying games that sometimes miss the purpose of roleplaying itself, such as Dungeons and Dragons, or Shadow Run. These games, although enjoyable on their own level, do not function in the same way as a Wraith game. Wraiths' backbone is player's and their emotions, and as a result, the flow of the game never behaves as the rest of the storyteller series. As a result, players become uncomfortable with the strange and personal gameplay. Some of the players will begin to speak nervously, laugh compulsively, tap their fingers on the table...then as an escape, claim to have become bored. The game quickly dissolving, gets placed on the shelf for another game without such elements...and gather dust soon after.
As one would expect, the nature of the game itself was its downfall. Many White-Wolf fans who played the other games of the Storyteller series wouldn't touch Wraith after a few sessions. Although all the games of the storyteller series places the characters in a loosing war, they can achieve victories in their time. While the loosing war takes its toll on the players (at least those who roleplay their characters), the chance to win individual battles within their wars commonly blinds the characters from the conflict they're failing.
Mage: Although you have already lost the Ascension War, there exist chances for victory for yourself and some others. The will of the masses might not be for the exhaltation of humanity, the technocracy might be closing in all around you tainting human creativity, but you still have yourself and the rest of the Traditions. A Mage game or chronicle might end with an incredible and elaborate mission, with a surreal conclusion. The battles are amazing and creative, and the illusion of progress is extremelly strong. In truth, a raid on a Technocratic lab will have little effect - the Technocracy is so incredibly huge and powerful they will eventually come down and destroy you for your "crimes again reality," and continue their reckless slaughter of human genius.
Wraith offers a very limited temporary reprieve from the knowledge of inevitable defeat. Even the act of regaining Pathos and visiting a Fetter will bring incredibly painful responses to the player.
Where's the victory in dwelling on your defeat?
However... Wraith: the Oblivion provides one of the most powerful games, with an incredible world and system. WhiteWolf did an amazing job in fleshing out the underworld, and set up a tense plot with a beautiful game world. Although the game is depressing, wonderful things can come out of it. It's death (a powerful irony) came in the form of The Year of the Reckoning - the year the White-Wolf released Hunter the Reckoning. The Year of the Reckoning brought about Ends of Empire, the last Wraith: the Oblivion book to ever be published. In Ends of Empire, the 6th great Maelstrom finally arrives and brings about the apocalypse in the underworld. It's demise opened up the path for another game, Hunter: the Reckoning.
The discontinuation of this product line has crippled the gamers - the stagnation of a lack of new products has lead to a massive increase in prices, such as Dark: Reflections - Spectres, a sourcebook that once sold for $12, and now ranges between $70 and $75. However, its remains an integral part of the World of Darkness, shown in recent books such as The Walking Dead (a Hunter: the Reckoning supplement). Some players have petitioned for a revival of the gaming line, but with the destruction of the game through the plot ending and the lack of avid gamers, a return for Wraith remains unlikely.
In Wraith, you play a mortal that has died. This mortal had things in life that prevented him from going on...unfullfilled desires if you will, and has been tethered to the Shadowlands. The Shadowlands is a part of the Underworld that Wraiths dwell in, and is a Dark Reflection of the world, almost similar to the way the Umbra works in Werewolf: the Apocalypse. Things seem more decayed and ruined in the Shadowlands than they do in the realworld, and Oblivion's Touch is more apparent.
The game itself usually takes place after all the players have crossed the Shroud (the barrier between the real world and Shadowlands), although it can have preludes that last entire chronicles. A good example is a mortal game where at the end of a chroncile, if the players enjoy their player's personal stories, after all the characters die they continue their existance in the Shadowlands. Of course, there are certain rules that apply to this wicked crossover...
In Mage: the Ascension, once the Mage dies, he loses all of his powers. Although he will still be aware of the Technocracy and Traditions, he can not manipulate reality like an Awakened. Of course, wreaking vengence on a technocratic lab is near impossible because of powerful shroud ratings (aka, the Gauntlet), and hanging out with Euthanatos mages can prove to be extremelly dangerous (and illegal!).
In Werewolf: the Apocalypse, chances for Wraith / Werewolf crossover are almost non-existant. Once a Garou dies, its soul will be recycled back into Gaea, unless it was Wrym-tainted. Those who do loose all of their gifs.
In Vampire: the Masquerade, the vampire does indeed go to the Shadowlands, but like Mages and Werwolves, they keep none of their abilities. Unfortunately, many Vampires will find themselves surrounded by vengeful enemies of those they managed to destroy in the living world...
In Changeling: the Dreaming, the Fae soul returns to the tree of life...unless the changeling was slain with chimercal damage or steel, in which case it finally goes to the Shadowlands.
Hunter crossovers have yet to be explored by White Wolf because Hunter wasn't released until Wraith'
s untimely ending.
The Mortal's death makes a difference in the game, sometimes a huge one. People who died violently sometimes instantly become Spectres - twisted Shadow eaten Wraiths existing off of Dark Passions. Once a mortal has died, (assuming he doesn't trascend and isn't sucked into Oblivion) he appears in the Shadowlands surrounded by an ectoplasmic caul. If he is lucky, he will tear out of this caul (which is very strong, and suspends the Wraith in a narcotic haze prohibiting rational thought). A Reaper will eventually come to the Wraith, and cut the Caul away from him. If the Wraith is very lucky, he may find a benevolent Reaper that would set him free...but more likely, the Reaper will send the Wraith into a temporary servitude or slavery.
Before making finishing his Wraith, the player should spend a good deal of time on detailing how the Wraith died. This provides a powerful stockpile of Passions and Fetters.
Upon awakening from his caul, the Wraith will become aware of another prescence in his mind. At first, it may seem like a voice sharing your body...in truth, it's far more insidious than that... leading us to...
Every Wraith has is own worst enemy living in the back of his head. The process of death itself shatters the Wraith's mind into two parts - the psyche and the shadow. The shadow is basically the half of you which wants you to end your state of quasi existence. A wraith's shadow is actively plotting against it.
These are your darkest most evil thoughts. It is the cynical, twisted, greedy voice in the back of your mind, telling you the tainted. When you look into your lover's eyes, it the voice reminding you she cheated on you. When your ally is talking to you, the Shadow is the voice telling you he's lying. It lies to you, tempts you, and dregs up your past...and few people know about your shames better than yourself. It does all these horrible things in its goal of destroying your life...then dragging you into Oblivion. Wraiths who have been "Shadow-eaten" have succumbed to their dark sides, and become Spectres - warriors of Oblivion.
The Shadow is perhaps the most interesting aspect of Wraith. In Wraith, each Wraith's shadow is played by another player in the group. This is perhaps the most innovative aspect of Wraith, helping to prevent cases where only one or two players get to play (When the party becomes split up, the players show play the Shadows get to be active regardless).
The Psyche - This is the concious portion of you you expierence right now. It strives to fullfill it's passions, and is usually not malevolent.